Personal photo taken near Prairie Creek State Park

Learn from the Past

“To cherish what remains of the Earth and to foster its renewal is our only legitimate hope of survival.”
Wendell Berry

          Sadly, the greatest threat to the coast redwood trees is humans. In the past, logging has been very destructive to the redwood forest. In fact, more than 95% of the original coastal redwood forests have been cut down. This occurred over a century, starting when California was under Spanish rule and not ending until the 1990s, when the last old-growth grove on timber production lands was cut. The most severe period of logging began in about 1850, driven by the demand for mine and building timber created by the California gold rush, and continued well into the 20th century.

Photo of people on coast redwood log around 1900 from

          Opposition to the logging began almost immediately in the late 19th century. In 1900, the first activist organization, Sempervirens Club was established to formally work to preserve the trees, and two years later, the first redwood park, now known as the Big Basin Redwoods State Park, was set aside. Later, in 1907, Muir Woods National Monument was preserved. Save the Redwoods League was established eleven years later. In following decades, the Save the Redwoods League and many other activist groups have fought to protect remaining old redwoods by supporting state and federal parks, protecting areas of land, and even buying land. In fact, for every ten acres of protected redwoods in California, more than six of those acres have been preserved through the work of this corporation.

          Today, the redwoods are one of the most symbolically important of all tree species, respected by millions of people for the visual and other subtle values provided by these remaining groves of majestic trees. Unfortunately, logging is still a problem for the forests, even to this day. Several timber companies are now targeting second-growth trees in areas just beginning to recover the characteristics of a healthy, mature forest. More lately, urban development is threatening the coastal redwoods, mainly in places close to growing population centers. The coast redwoods in the Santa Cruz Mountains are especially at risk.

          The coast redwood is one of the most important timber species in California. Its rich color, light weight, and resistance to decay and fire make it very valuable. As a result of its resistance to decay, it was often times used for railroad ties. Many of the old ties have been recycled and are now used in gardens as borders and such. The burls of redwoods are made into table tops and veneers.

Video: Save the Redwoods League

I know it's hard to believe, but there's even MORE!!! Visit More Interesting Facts to learn even more cool stuff about the coast redwood!

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